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Another reason I don’t do negative reviews

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65 comments on “Another reason I don’t do negative reviews”

  1. The term “frivolous lawsuit” ruffles the feather of legal eagles; but this certainly falls within that sphere. It is a sad day when our freedom of speech is so constricted by threat of legal action, that we simply choose not to express ourselves. On the other hand, this certain fits within the philosophy of my dear old Grandma. She always said, “If you can’t say something good about a person, don’t say anything at all.” Keep up the good work Leo!

  2. Leo, in your second paragraph you said, “It’s interesting, I typically do negative reviews.”
    Did you actually mean you *don’t* do negative reviews?

    Thanks for all you *do* do!

  3. “It’s interesting, I typically do negative reviews” in second paragraph of transcript. I think “not” is missing.

    As for lawsuits, it’s about time we made plaintiffs pay legal fees when they lose a frivolous suit. I know, “frivolous” isn’t quantitative, but a judge or panel could probably decide easily when it applies. Heck, any rational person probably could.

      • yes, so sad yet so true.
        I’ve been attempting for years to help clean the mess of our judicial system, by spreading these facts; yet the greedy seem to continually have the upper hand leaving the victim at a loss as to what to do.

    • Thanks for catching it. Video transcripts are more prone to errors than articles, because they’re put up quickly and proofread after they’re on line.

  4. I have also been on the receiving end of a threatened lawsuit, not as hosting a negative comment but as the poster. The host site contacted me to advise that they had received a lawyer’s letter threatening a suit, against them as the hosting site and me as the poster, because of a negative review I had posted. The review was strictly factual, didn’t use extreme language and reported a very bad experience I had had with the company. Fortunately for me and the host site, after I deleted the review the subject of the review didn’t pursue it further. Unfortunately for other unsuspecting consumers, they were thereby denied information that would have warned them about this unscrupulous company. So posting negative but factual reviews raises a very real risk to the poster and site, but threatening a lawsuit poses little risk to the subject company. Something needs to be done about this to level the playing field.

    • Hi, I do not understand, John. If it is your experience, how can they sue you over that? If this can happen, when it is a personal experience, then I agree with others that we need to get it back to balance. You, I, anyone has a right to tell their story and experiences. If the company doesn’t like it then fix it. The company needs to spend, to show not everyone has that experience. I know I sound Utopian, however, we need to get some of this stuff back to balance and on the shoulder of who is responsible. As a consumer you should not be sued because you tried a product that professed something and it did not hold up to it. I depend on negative reviews when I make decisions, it gives me a ‘temperature.’ if you will, about what I decide to do. Looking at positive and negative reviews will help me decide. If there are only glowing reviews, I will NOT buy and I will not recommend. I will write ‘did not live up to expectation’s’ articles, specifically so other consumers can judge for themselves. They may not experience the problem I did or do not care about it. But to be sued because of it, is breaking ‘Freedom of Speech’ laws.

      • “How can they sue?” is easy: anyone can sue anyone for any reason. They won’t WIN, but they can absolutely put you through the pain of having to defend yourself.

        • Exactly, Leo. I never had any illusions that a court case would ultimately be won in favor of the review. In fact such cases pop up in the news from time to time. But this was a large and well-heeled company with their own legal department, which could afford to tie me and the host site (a small outfit) in legal knots for years, and probably bankrupt both of us before any final decision was reached. Just not something I or the host could do.

      • “You, I, anyone has a right to tell their story and experiences.” – Absolutely. You can indeed share your story and experiences; but what you can’t legally do is to make false/defamatory statements – and that’s what’s being alleged.

  5. It is awful that we can’t say “I don’t like product A” or “Product A didn’t live up to my expectations” without risking being sued! There are sue-happy people out there who can’t take negative criticism! Potentially, that means companies could go after individuals who post a negative review of their products. Very sad indeed! 🙁

    • “It is awful that we can’t say “I don’t like product A” or “Product A didn’t live up to my expectations” without risking being sued!” – You can indeed make such statements; people are entitled to express their opinions and, so long as the statements are presented as opinions, it’s absolutely fine. What people cannot do, however, is make false statements as to matters of fact.

      For example, I’m perfectly entitled to say, “I don’t like”; it’s obviously an opinion and, therefore, could not be regarded as defamatory. I’m not, however, entitled to say, “I don’t like because Leo traps and eats his neighbours’ cats.” Were I to make such a statement, Leo would certainly have grounds to take legal action for defamation.

      Erm, oops, I suppose I did just state that “Leo traps and eats his neighbours’ cats.” In this instance, I’ll claim the defence of mere vulgar abuse: to wit, a statement that is obviously not to be taken seriously or believed and which, therefore, will not harm the good Mr. Notenboom’s reputation.

  6. California has what is called an anti-SLAPP law. A SLAPP is a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” The law arose from cases where citizens would appear in front of a city council to object to some new shopping center that was being planned, and the developer would sue them for defamation. If such a lawsuit is filed, an anti-SLAPP motion requires the person suing to immediately present evidence showing that they will probably win. That is, they have to have this evidence when they start the suit. They cannot go fishing for it. If the defendant, i.e. the citizen who objected to the development, wins this motion, they automatically get their attorney fees. If they lose it costs them virtually nothing. This law has been used to protect newspapers and other media, from libel suits, and should work in these kinds of matters.

  7. These frivolous suits should be more seriously penalized. It seems to be a problem for the media also. You used to see shoddy products and services being analyzed. Recall the 60 Minutes takedown of big tobacco. 20-20 did such investigations. What happened? Frivolous lawsuits. In the insurance industry, in claims, frivolous lawsuits are the name of the game … driving up costs for all policyholders.

  8. We *so* need a loser-pays legal system in this country! That would eliminate (or at least significantly cut down) the existence of frivolous lawsuits if the sue-er had as much skin in the game as the sue-ee did.

    • It’s really quite bizarre that, unlike most countries, the US does not operate under a “loser pays” system. Somewhat oddly, Texas is (I think) alone in having limited provision to award costs to the defendant in the case of baseless suits.

  9. OMG! There certainly seems to be a lot of frivolous law suits filed in the USA, by companies who don’t like people leaving negative reviews of their products! What is the matter with these companies that they can’t take a bit of criticism?

    No doubt it’s only a matter of time that this sort of frivolous law suits become commonplace in the UK too. So perhaps I had better be careful next time I write a negative review of a product on Amazon or on any other website from which I’ve made a purchase I am less than happy with – for fear of getting sued! How ridiculous!

    • “There certainly seems to be a lot of frivolous law suits filed in the USA, by companies who don’t like people leaving negative reviews of their products!” – On the flip side of things, I’ve heard claims of sellers paying people to leave negative reviews of their competitors’ products. In fact, Amazon commenced legal proceedings last year against 1,000 or so sellers who they believe had paid people to leave fake reviews.

    • To top it off you have to worry about the “gag clauses” in the twenty pages of fine print we never read when buying online products or services. That practice has gotten so bad Congress stepped in:
      I’m pleased with the Amazon suit. It gets harder and harder to trust product reviews, always having to read between the lines in an attempt to determine if one is real or not.

        • Still doesn’t prevent people from suing even if only to stir up troubles. (But that’s really good to know…. at one point the act of moderating comments – as I do here – I believe made me more liable than a site that didn’t. Hence so many other sites did not moderate comments, and the result was a horrific cesspool of comments. I couldn’t live with that.)

          • No, it doesn’t. Gotta say, I don’t necessarily like the idea of website owners having blanket protection. Should somebody post a defamatory comment at AskLeo – which you subsequently refuse to remove – and that comment negatively impacts a business, should you not be liable? The business has, after all, suffered losses and can’t take action against an anonymous commenter.

            Eric Schmidt, for former CEO of Google, once said, “The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a verified name service for people. Governments will demand it.” While problematic on a number of levels, it’s not entirely without merit. If access to the internet were to be via a verified name service, it’d solve a considerable number of problems – and create some new problems too, of course!

          • It has some merit, but it’s a very controversial issue. Banning anonymity could destroy the internet as we know it. It would give too much power to government censors, and the bad guys would still find a way around it.

          • Definitely controversial and an interesting subject. Both the pro- and anti-anonymity arguments each have merit. On the one hand, there are instances in which anonymity is extremely important – in the case of people living under oppressive/repressive regimes, for example. On the other hand, that anonymity is widely abused and removing it would address many of the problems that plague the internet – from fake reviews to online harassment and defamation to spam (assuming the verified name service actually worked, of course!).

  10. Leo is being honest and forthright about the subject, there are plenty of people that spread the word about bogus software programs, Leo has plenty to keep him busy by trying to keep pc dummies like me out of the weeds.

  11. I live on limited retirement income, but I will raid my change jar to contribute to Bleeping Computer’s defense. This stuff makes my blood boil.

    Thanks, Leo, for bringing it to our attention, and as always with honesty and integrity. Out of respect for your philosophy, I’ll also refrain from naming the suing party, but from what I can glean from forums and comment sections, the lawsuit is truly beyond the pale.

  12. Hi, I am a new subscriber, so haven’t heard some of this before. But, I totally agree with you about negative reviews.
    However, if I were to ask you about something that you didn’t think was a good choice or something that might not be good to buy, would you give that answer? Long winded I know. I have no one to ask questions to, so when I found your website yesterday 2/8/2016, I was jumping for joy. I have been praying to find someone just like you, who loves computers and wants to share what they know. God Bless you for caring.

    • What typically happens when people ask “what do you think of X?” is that I might reply with something along the lines of “I don;t have much experience with X”, or that and “however I use and recommend Y”. The one exception is when “X” is a member of an entire class of programs – like registry cleaners, performance optimizers, RAM boosters and the like – then I can honestly say “I’m not a fan of those kinds of programs in general”.

  13. Nobody likes a bully! Hopefully enough of us stand with BC to help him weather this suit. And Leo, don’t change your positive ways. Your site is a sanctuary of mellowness, a brief respite from the insanity out there.

  14. Having used ‘Bleeping Computer’ on several occasions in the past, as well as ‘Ask Leo’, this article strikes home. Thank you Leo for bringing this to the attention of your subscribers. Personally believing that one should be free to speak one’s opinions as part of free speech, I have contributed to the defense of that notion (Bleeping’s Defense Fund). It may be modest, but if all that have used the site help, I’m sure we will continue to enjoy the free support. Roger

  15. “Wake up?????” Thanks. The problem is that all still costs me lots of money and time. Time I’d rather spend answering (more politely) worded questions and comments.

  16. Leo, just a note to you personally, offered with the best of intentions. You’ve developed a speech tic that (for neurotic guys like me, anyway) compromises the flow of your otherwise smooth (and valuable) videos. “Like I said…” occurs five times in this short video. It’s become pretty typical. Just sayin’.

    Be well,

  17. Thanks for the info, Leo.
    Glad you posted this. I donated.
    This type of intimidation and bullying has to stop before consumers have no voice.

  18. Many years ago, when I was in graduate school, I worked for an attorney. One day, someone came into the office and wanted to sue another person for what was a ridiculous reason. I asked the attorney I worked for if he could do that. His answer was, “That is the #1 question that is missed by almost everyone taking the bar exam. Anyone can sue anyone for any reason. That doesn’t mean they’ll win. People sometimes do it to harass another. It can be dismissed as a ‘frivolous lawsuit,’ but they certainly can initiate a suit.” This suing of appears to be one of these.

  19. It’s hard to know what to believe. When I looked for more info about this lawsuit, one article said that the lawsuit was NOT about negative reviews, but was based on the fact that BleepingComputer steered readers towards MalwareBytes without informing readers that they (BleepingComputer) received an affiliate commission from MalwareBytes. They quoted Enigma rep (the company doing the suing) as stating:
    He clarified that the case in question is not about a review, adding that site is free to write negative things fairly if it chooses. “What [BleepingComputer] are not free to do is pretend they are providing unbiased reviews in order to drive sales of products where they get commissions,” he said.

    So, if the lawsuit is about a bad review, I would support BleepingComputer. But if BleepingComputer is receiving commissions without disclosing that info to readers – that’s another matter.
    Leo, please give us more info/ clarifications.

  20. This is the reply to a topic in 2014 that the sellers of SpyHunter found fault with:

    The reason, my opinion, that Enigma even noticed that post was because it had attracted more than 300,000 views from users looking for information on SpyHunter to decide whether to purchase or not.

    It’s obvious to me, my opinion, there is nothing there that the replier did not support with links to where the info came from.
    Read the post and see if you agree that the suit qualifies as a SLAPP suit….
    Thanks Leo for starting this topic and allowing my first post here. Though I have visited here many many times.

    • “It’s obvious to me, my opinion, there is nothing there that the replier did not support with links to where the info came from.” – The fact that somebody else made similar comments is not a defence; whether a comment would be regarded as a fair comment or potentially defamatory depends entirely on the truth of the facts upon which the comment is based. That said, I completely agree with you. Quickly skimming the review I see nothing that would not be regarded either as opinion or fair comment and, consequently, I suspect that this action is indeed a SLAPP.

      • One important item mentioned in those links and reply was the lack of testing the SpyHunter program by an independent/ impartial testing lab.
        In my search for any such test I did find one performed. Note the date of the test compared to the 2014 BC Topic that Enigma didn’t like. The result was SpyHunter only identified one sample out of a 1,000 well known samples of malware. You can view the test results at free_antivirus_scanner_test_ENG.pdf

        The comment in that PDF says “SpyHunter turns [out] to be the worst scanner. According to the producer, it protects against 1,116,
        643 threats, but in our test it detected only one sample.

        • To be fair, it’s detection capabilities are likely okay. The product is certified by West Coast Labs, a well-respected security testing body.

          • Have you ever found that test report from West Coast Labs that Enigma claims exist? I’ve looked for it. Can’t find it. You would think Enigma would have the test report and offer it.

  21. I having nothing to do with The Ask Leo! Newsletter except as a reader. I will never purchase Enigma software (the plaintiffs against Bleeping Computer). Remember the Streisand Effect. It will get Enigma.


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